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The 19th Century Novel

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The 19th Century Novel A Novel is defined as a long story about fictitious characters, written in prose as opposed to poetry. Novels were first written in the 18th Century so by the 19th Century, the novel, often in serialised form was an established form of entertainment which was also helped by the increased adult literacy rate over the whole of the 1800s. The idea of the novel had changed from being purely for the amusement of women to being available to a wider audience, covering a wider variety of issues. It was also over this century that it began to be increasingly acceptable, if not usual to write novels with an underlying moral tone, particularly towards social standards among the lower classes. Another theme of many 19th Century novels was the creation and depiction of strong and great female characters, many through the new generation of female writers. Walter Scott, born in Scotland in 1771 was famous for his escapist literature such as 'Waverley' (1814) and 'Ivanhoe' (1819), both of these escapist in their setting further back in the past (1745 and Norman Times respectively). Scott had been a poet until he turned to novel writing having been outsold by Lord Byron's poetry. ...read more.


Mrs. Gaskell was another renowned social exposer. 'Mary Barton' in 1845 was seen as an innovation because of the almost entirely working class cast of characters which seemed to give insight to the readers as to why poor people would hate the rich people. Despite not being of the lower classes herself in her position married to a utilitarian minister, she scrupulously researched her novels first hand by speaking to parents of dying children in the slums of Manchester. Using accents throughout her novels it was said that it was through 'Mary Barton' that the voice of the poor was heard in the drawing rooms of England. Mrs. Gaskell said that she felt her role as a writer was to move and to mend society and in many ways she did achieve both, raising consciousness leading many readers to take action by going and meeting the real life versions of her characters. Unlike Mrs. Gaskell, Charlotte Bront� and her sisters Anne and Emily felt forced to write under the male pseudonyms of Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell. Sent to a boarding school as children with their two other sisters who died there of tuberculosis gave Charlotte Bront� the inspiration for the first part of 'Jane Eyre' where Jane is sent to Lowood School where following an outbreak of the same disease, her beloved friend Helen Burns dies. ...read more.


He is best known for his vivid portrayal of his beloved Wessex. Hardy is one of the few writers to succeed as both a writer and poet, having turned to poetry following criticisms of his later novels. He was famously inspired by interesting snippets of news stories such as dripping blood from a ceiling (Tess) and a child hanging himself and his siblings to save his parents (Jude). His novels generally cover a long period of time and he allows complete insight into his characters and their feelings, many never achieving true love or happiness despite their life-long struggle. Both 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' were highly criticised at his time of writing, the brutality of his stories shocking the Victorian Public. However, he remains popular due to the strength of his stories and characters. Beyond the six authors that I have touched upon, the 19th Century literature collection is vast, many surviving and others falling into obscurity. Although the early 20th Century writers felt revolutionary in their casting off of the old Victorian novel style, I feel that the 19th Century Novelists were equally revolutionary in what they did for the novel. They created similar novel genres to what exists today and entertained and often shocked an uptight century. They introduced the art of observance and intricacy to the novel form and have formed the basis for the inspiration of novelists ever since. ...read more.

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